June 28, 1923 - July 28, 2020 Sidney "S.L." Stebel, novelist, screenwriter, playwright and the man Ray Bradbury called the "best writing teacher that ever was" died at home in Los Angeles on July 28. He was 97. Born in Sioux City, IA on June 28, 1923, he and his family relocated to Los Angeles in 1939. A member of the Army Air Corps, Mr. Stebel was stationed in the South Pacific during World War II and was a veteran of five seaborne combat landings. He enrolled at USC in 1945. In the fall of 1948, while scouting talent for a literary magazine, he met Mr. Bradbury. The two became lifelong friends and, in 1975, founding members of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference where Mr. Stebel's seminal workshop, "Finding Your Secret Story," was standing-room-only for years. For the past decade, he and his wife Karen have taught the workshop together. A lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, Mr. Stebel was a script consultant for the film "Picnic at Hanging Rock," wrote a one-man play for Henry Fonda, "Fathers Against Sons," and spent eighteen years teaching fiction writing to graduate students at USC. He also taught a master class in screenwriting at the American Film Institute (AFI) and a writing workshop at Esalen Institute in Big Sur. "The Collaborator," his brilliant, imaginative novel about an Israeli Jew accused of collaborating with the Nazis, was published by Random House in 1968. "Spring Thaw," published by Walker and Company in1989, includes an afterword by Mr. Bradbury and conveys a strong ecological message. "Double Your Creative Power: Make Your Subconscious a Partner in the Writing Process," published in 1996, is an erudite, step-by-step guide to creating fiction that demystifies the process of successful storytelling. Preceded in death by his first wife, Jan Dingler Stebel, and daughter Patricia Hernandez, he is survived by wife Karen K. Ford, granddaughter April Calvarro and grandson Alejandro Hernandez of San Francisco, and sister Tola Minkoff of Palo Alto. A celebration of life will be held when it is safe to gather in person.
Published by Los Angeles Times from Aug. 8 to Aug. 9, 2020.